American Airlines Fined $4.1 Million For Keeping Passengers On Tarmac

by Anthony Losanno
American Plane

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The United States Transportation Department (USDOT) fined American Airlines $4.1 million for keeping thousands of passengers on the tarmac for hours. This is the largest fine ever levied for violating this rule.

The penalty comes from a cumulative 43 domestic flights between 2018 and 2021. American kept passengers on planes for lengthy timeframes without giving passengers the right to deplane. On one of the flights, passengers were not provided with food or water after waiting hours. A total of 5,821 passengers were impacted and most of the delays occurred at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). American will receive a $2.05 million credit for compensation that the airline already provided to passengers.

In 2016, the USDOT fined American $1.6 million for similar violations. In January, the agency said it was seeking higher penalties from airlines that broke consumer protection rules in an effort to deter future incidents.

American Plane

American provided Reuters with a statement saying:

We have since apologized to the impacted customers and regret any inconvenience caused. American respectfully disagrees that certain of these tarmac delays warrant enforcement action under the extreme circumstances presented.”

The airline contends that the delays were the result of exceptional weather events. The flights in question represented less than 0.001% of the approximately 7.7 million flights operated by American and its regional partners during the three-year period.

US Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, said:

This is the latest action in our continued drive to enforce the rights of airline passengers. Whether the issue is extreme tarmac delays or problems getting refunds, DOT will continue to protect consumers and hold airlines accountable.”

Anthony’s Take: There are few travel headaches worse than being stuck on a delayed plane away from the gate and having to sit idly. Carriers should be held accountable and use better judgment.

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